Page 16 - good life autum 17
P. 16

You’ll never be
alone if you
have a pet

Lori Little explores the ways
keeping a pet can benefit
older people

YOU need never be alone if you have a pet companion.                                              This is Les Richards and Brandy
Having a dog, or any other animal, can be very beneficial for
older people, for a multitude of reasons.                              The animal invariably settles in as if they had been there their
                                                                    whole life and the person can’t imagine life without their new
   Helen Sinclair, of the Island charity Friends of the Animals,    friend. Happily, both parties then take on a new lease of life.
explained: “As long as a person is mobile, a pet is invariably a
good thing for an older person to have.                                82 year old Les Richards, from East Cowes, found a friend in
                                                                    Brandy, a terrier cross who had come into the care of Friends of
   “Friends of the Animals frequently re-homes animals with         the Animals.
older people. The trick is to always match the right animal to the
right home and we go to great lengths to ensure this happens.          Les had lost both his wife, Janet, and his border collie cross,
                                                                    Katie, within six days of each other last December.
   “There are many reasons why having a pet is good for an older
person. A pet brings great joy and is often an older person’s          Small, quiet Brandy was the perfect match for animal lover,
reason to live.                                                     Les, who has also owned cats, rabbits and guinea pigs over the
   “Living alone can cause a feeling of isolation, which can lead
to depression. The company of an animal is both comforting and         “I’ve had him for three weeks now and he’s just starting to get
therapeutic.                                                        the hang of things,” said Les. “I go for lunch each day at Solent
                                                                    View Care Home and Brandy loves to come with me.
   “Older people usually have the time to devote to a pet, and the
need to attend to its welfare is super-motivating. I suspect very      “He helps take my mind off things. He’s a real companion to
few dog owners would go out for a daily walk were it not for        me.”
their pet.”
                                                                       Friends of the Animals operates by utilising a network of foster
   Many animals come into the charity’s care because their          homes and older people who cannot commit to taking on an
original owner predeceased them.                                    animal permanently, frequently make excellent foster carers.

   People and animals thrive on companionship and both share a         The charity supplies everything they need and advice and
need to be loved and it is hugely rewarding for the charity team    support is readily available.
to find a grieving pet their new forever home.
                                                                       Anyone interested can contact the office on 522511 for details.
                                                                       Some of the foster carers are in their eighties — and many are
                                                                    of retirement age.
                                                                       Margaret Thomas, of Binstead, is retired and aged 65, and
                                                                    she is one of the charities most prolific foster carers. She has
                                                                    fostered 20 dogs over the last few years.
                                                                       She likes it because she can still be flexible, go on holiday and
                                                                    not be tied down, but when she is around she will happily take a
                                                                    dog in while they are waiting for their forever home.
                                                                       “I normally take on small dogs and it is good for me as it
                                                                    makes me go out and taken them for a walk a couple of times a
                                                                    day. It’s a social thing, you meet the same people on the walks
                                                                    and get chatting.
                                                                       “I benefit from the company of the dog but I don’t have to pay
                                                                    for the vet bills or food, the charity does all that.
                                                                        “Sometimes I get too attached and it’s sad to see them go,

                                                                          but at least you know they are going to a good home and I
                                                                              often keep in touch anyway.
                                                                                    “I can’t take on a dog of my own right now and I think
                                                                                     if you can’t give 100 per cent you shouldn’t have
                                                                                         one. But if I’m free when Friends of the Animals
                                                                                           phone and ask for help, I enjoy having a dog to
                                                                                           stay for a while.”

16 ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY PRESS The Good Life Autumn 2017
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